Why management schools should foster innovation and leadership?

Management education is not merely about imparting technical and conceptual skills but is also about creating the wireframe for ‘attitude’ and the template for ‘decision-making-skill’.

Let us explore the context in which management education is designed and then dig deep into the need for prioritizing innovation and leadership and finally look at the challenges in designing a program that meets the objective.

1) Management Education Context:

a. Unlike west where students take up management education after 8 to 12 years of work experience , in India 40% plus students are fresh out of college and the balance have very limited work experience of 2 years to 4 years

b. Management education is therefore a terminal (education) program that carries the onus of making graduates employable and also prepare them for the long haul of taking up leadership positions in their career

2) Need for prioritising innovation and leadership:

A. Expectation from key stakeholders:

a. Recruiters: Business models are changing at a rapid rate and an innovative/ experimental approach is integral for differentiation and competitive edge.
Corporate expect that management graduates will come with flair and dash for conceiving and executing new ideas. Corporate recruiters expect premier business schools to develop talent that can in quick time take leadership roles in mid- management level

b. Students: Students expect management schools to secure them placement in premier corporate institutions in challenging and rewarding roles. Towards that end the ranking of the B-Schools is directly dependent on its placement track record

B. Competitive context

a. Management education is high competition business and B- Schools in an effort to position themselves as a premier institution seek to pitch their offering at an aspirational level

3) Challenges in designing curriculum to foster innovation and leadership

A. Quality of undergraduate education

a. Till under graduation, education in India emphasises rote learning of subjects. Teaching is delivered more thru lecture mode and there is very little participative or applied learning

b. The teaching approach does not focus enough on building communication skills, personality, values and attitude

B. Duration of Post Graduate Management education

a. Management education has to bridge the large void in basic communication skills, address awareness and development of emotional and relationship skills and integrate multi-disciplinary learning in a multi-sectoral environment

b. The program packs several subjects that are delivered in a new class/case discussion based learning methodology

c. The duration of post graduate management education at 21 months is very short to achieve the onerous objective of making managers and leaders

4) Designing Management education to foster innovation and leadership

a. The current mode of under-graduate education is not delivering on creating employable graduates and worse still is not even producing graduates who can be readily taught management education

b. We need to

i. Create an integrated management education of 5 years to lay a strong learning foundation in the first 3 years and layering management education in the final 2 years

ii. Redesign undergraduate management education that fosters applied learning and focuses on building communication and personality skills

iii. Introduce advanced general management education for practitioners that can be delivered over an extended period with minimum break from full time work. In this construct the curriculum can be designed to align the sector, discipline and role

c. We should also recognise that leadership and decision making come with applied learning. Management education should be about opening the minds and seeding values, attitudes and thinking skills. The graduates will still be work in process; ready for combat and ready for applied learning

Surya Mahadevan
Prof. Surya Mahadevan has 30 years of work experience in FMCG and Telecom sectors. He played leadership roles managing large brands such as Tata, Reliance, Aircel, Loop, Maltova, Viva and Amul.

He has worked across Sales, Marketing, Retail and Customer Service functional areas and in his last assignment before joining TAPMI, he was responsible for Mumbai Circle Telecom operations as Chief Operating Officer at Loop Mobile.